Station Break

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Ticket To Ride

Detroit—A couple of Motor City stations want to ride Donald Trump's coattails to ratings success. WXYZ, a Scripps-owned ABC affiliate, created The Intern, in which a group of law students jump through Apprentice
-like hoops in order to secure a summer internship with Detroit attorney Geoffrey Fieger. News Director Andrew Parquet-Taylor says the idea emerged from a station brainstorming session.

Not to be outdone, WDIV, the Post-Newsweek-owned NBC affiliate, invented The Reporter, which will award the winner a cub reporter's position with the station. Reporter Paula Tutman hosts the sweeps series.

WXYZ's local news finished first in most time periods during the February sweeps. WDIV was tops at 11 p.m. CBS-owned WWJ does no local news.

The French Connection

Lafayette, La.—Many stations around the country present Spanish-language newscasts. Here in Cajun country, KATC has begun a nightly French version of its local weather forecast. After meteorologist Rob Perillo completes his daily outlook, he works up a 30- to-45-second summary and gives it to a French-speaker in the accounting department, who translates and voices the report. "The Cajun population does not want to lose its cultural heritage," says General Manager Nannette Frye. A large proportion of the market's older residents still speak French. KATC runs the summary in its 5 and 6 p.m. newscasts but has no plans to expand into other areas.

Lucky Landing

In Brooklyn, N.Y., last week, a WNBC news helicopter covering a triple shooting malfunctioned, sending two pilots and a reporter on a spinning plunge to the roof of an apartment building. Surprisngly, the trio, including reporter Andrew Torres, escaped serious injury. Rival WABC New York captured footage of the crash, which it then shared with other stations. The mishap occurred during the 6 p.m. news, minutes after Torres concluded a live report. California-based Helinet Aviation Services owns the chopper; it had a similar crash in Los Angeles in 2000.

The Tough Go Shopping

Pittsburgh—One of the Steel City's two community-owned TV stations went shopping May 1. After seven years of simulcasting the programming of its sister station, WQEX began to carry America's Store, a service of Home Shopping Network. Owner WQED Multimedia inked a three-year deal that will reportedly generate between $600,000 and $800,000 in annual revenue. The company is about $7.5 million in debt, reports The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. WQED Multimedia has been trying to sell WQEX for years.

Fargo Dishes

Fargo, N.D.—Add Fargo to the list of markets in which Dish Network delivers local TV signals via satellite. Stations in the lineup: KXJB, the CBS affiliate owned by Catamount Broadcast Group; KVRR, a Fox affiliate owned by Red River Broadcasting; Wicks Television's NBC affiliate, KVLY; and PBS station KFME.

Notably absent: WDAY, the ABC affiliate, owned by Forum Communications. "We are still negotiating," says Dish spokeswoman Julie Popp.

Satellite penetration is already fairly high in the market, 21%. Fargo is Nielsen market No. 118, with 233,000 TV households. Dish will soon add local service into Syracuse, N.Y. (market No. 79), and Lacrosse-Eau Claire, Wis. (No. 126), bringing to 120 the number of markets in which the company offers local signals.

Sweeps Home, Alabama

Birmingham/Mobile, Ala.—If you want to see a tight local news battle, compare the February numbers from the two largest Alabama markets. Three stations wound up in a virtual dead heat at 10 p.m. in Birmingham: NBC O&O WVTM and Fox-owned WBRC tied, each generating a 9 rating/14 share in households. Albritton's WBMA finished with a 9/13.

In the Mobile-Pensacola market, Media General's WKRG was first at 10 p.m. with an 8 rating/17 share. Pensacola, Fla.-based WEAR, a Sinclair station, scored an 8/16. In Montgomery, the Alabama capital, Liberty's WSFA dominates. The station finished with a 21/38 in February, more than doubling the numbers for WAKA (9/17), owned by Bahakel Communications.

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